Building resilience in Boston
Late last year, the mayor of Boston’s announced the City of Boston and SCAPE Studios’ Resilient Boston Harbor Vision, a plan to reshape the city’s 47-mile shoreline to both protect the city from major flooding events, and increase open space and access to the waterfront for residents.
SCAPE describes its work as a “comprehensive and transformative vision that will invest in Boston’s waterfront to guide open space investments toward more resilient and accessible communities.”
Their worst-case scenario diagrams anticipate a sea-level rise of one metre, and therefore show much of Boston underwater by 2070.
The plan has been divided into four main areas, with specific initiatives for each section that will help to address rising sea levels:
Downtown Boston will receive new ‘resilient’ waterfront parks to create new gateways to the harbour and defend it against flooding. New designs have also been created for Christopher Columbus Park, Sargent’s Wharf, and Langone Park.
New pathways along elevated landscapes are planned for Dorchester, and the Dorchester Shoreway will see an expansion of not only its beaches, but the tidal marsh at Tenean and Victory Beaches. Open waterfront space will also be increased to reduce flooding.
In East Boston, Constitution Beach will be renovated to add open space and block flood pathways. The area’s waterfront parks will be redeveloped to both increase flood protection and access to recreation facilities.
Meanwhile, in South Boston, a protective border for Moakley Park and a re-envisioning of the Fort Point Channel are both anticipated, blocking major flood pathways.
These neighbourhoods will be stitched together by additional recreational spaces, parks and boulevards, not only connecting Bostonians to green spaces, but absorbing rain and buffering storms.
There are also plans to restore the marshlands at Belle Isle as a further protection against waves and storm surge.
Buildings considered to be at risk will be raised and flood-adapted, and a series of elevated landscapes, pathways, and protective parks will be added along the shoreline.
In their outline, SCAPE Studios state that, “city-wide efforts like Boston’s are crucial to planning physical, adaptive landscapes and building coalitions to bring forward new stewardship models, rooted in communication and place. Without planning and foresight, extreme climate events will exacerbate inequality. This vision aims to anticipate change and is a first step in that open change process, signalling an intent to meet the challenge and a collaborative method to provide solutions.”